Jewelry Findings Tips

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How do I insure that my open jump rings stay closed?

Problems with Closing Jump Rings

Many people have problems with open jump rings not closing properly - or pulling apart as the jewelry piece is worn.

Jump rings should always be opened to the side - not outward (don't increase the diameter of the ring. I always use pliers in each hand holding the ring just below the opening, then move the tips of the pliers in opposite directions. When closing the ring - I reverse the movement. If it looks like the tips won't touch, I close down the diameter of the ring a bit before it is completely lined up to make sure they do just touch.

Many people try to economize on findings, so they end up buying rings that are too soft. The rings tend to just pull apart as the jewelry piece is worn. I find for 4mm open sterling silver jump rings, you need to have at least a 22ga ring - for 6mm try for 20ga or 19ga is even better.

A suggestion is to use oval jump rings instead of round. Oval jump rings have the opening on one of the long sides - and the wire tends to stay at one of the ends of the oval so it does not have a chance to go through the opening.

What characteristics should I look for in stranded beading wire?

Stranded Wire

Jewelry beading supply stores offer a large range of miniature wires created especially for bead stringing. You want beading wires that are soft, supple and strong so that they can be knotted like thread. Metal beading wires are typically strong, so they can also be fastened with metal crimps. Stranded wire products for beading are made from very tiny strands of stainless steel (strong) and then are coated with clear or colored nylon (smooth, vertatile colors for designs). To select the right wire, consider how flexible you want the stringing cable to be. A seven strand product is fine for most applications and is reasonably flexible. If you are using very light weight beads or need a very "drapey" look, choose a product with more strands (e.g. 19 strands or 49 strands). You also need to select diameter of the beading cable. Most gemstone beads or glass beads work well with .015 inch diameter cable. Tiny bead or pearls requirer thinner cable, such as .012 inch or .010 inch sizes. Heavy beads (10mm and larger) need heavier cable - so used .018 inch or larger sizes. Since most stranded cable is fastened at the end with crimps, you will be doubling the wire at the ends. Remeber, you need to be able to fit the wire through the inside of the beads twice at each end of the piece of jewelry.

What do I do if I can´t find just the right clasp for a necklace?

Making a Coordinated Clasp

If you can't find a clasp to go with that special beaded necklace you're making, make one of your own. Use a plain wooden bead (available at most craft stores) and bead around it with peyote or brick stitch using the same beads in your necklace. Attach your beaded bead to one side and make a loop on the other side for the bead to go through.

What is the purpose of a headpin?

Sterling Head Pins

A sterling silver head pin is used to attach a sterling silver bead or gemstone bead to components such as ear wires and necklace blanks. Head pins are long, rigid wires with one end flattened to prevent the sterling silver bead from slipping off your sterling silver jewelry. You can align your beads without worry of them dropping off your cord or wire.

What characteristics should I look for in metal wire?

Metal Wire

Metal wire used for jewelry making comes in many sizes and types. Wire is measured in a unit called "gauge" that often confuses people because a larger number means a smaller diameter wire. For example, a 26 gauge wire is very thin, and is typically used with tiny beads. A 16 gauge wire is a quite heavy wire used for making items like jump rings. The most popular wire gauges are 24ga, 20ga, and 18ga. Beading enthusiasts who do "wire wrapping" of beads and pendants typically use 22ga or 24ga wire. Metal workers often use 18ga or 16ga or even larger wires for techniques such as "hammering". Another factor in selecting metal wire is which metal to choose - wire for jewelry making is usually available in Sterling Silver, Gold-filled and Copper. Copper wire is available in its natural color - or with a colored Enamel surface - making wires available in all the colors of the rainbow.

How do I recolor a clasp where the metal has rubbed off?

Re-Coloring a Metal Clasp

If you have a metal clasp where the finish has rubbed off, recolor it with a metallic pen then seal it with clear nail polish or other sealant.

You can usually also replace the clasp. Think about using a clasp that will not have the finish (plating) wear off. The investment in a Sterling clasp, for example, is not really very much for a piece of jewelry that you really like. In most cases, you can cut the old clasp off without disturbing the piece - then attach the new clasp using split rings.

How do I open a jump ring?

Opening Jump Rings

Grasp the ring on either side of the opening with your needle-nose pliers or flat nosed pliers. You'll need two pairs of pliers, one on each side. Twist one side towards you and the other side away from you by gently twisting your wrist. To close the opening, just reverse the twisting motion.

A nifty tool also exists that looks like a ring. There is a little slot on the top of the ring that can be used to do the twisting motion.

Is there an alternative to the traditional jewerly clasps?

Magnetic Clasps

Try using one of the new magnetic clasps like the Sterling Silver magnetic clasp on your next piece of jewelry. The magnets are super strong and easy for the wearer to take on and off. They are particularly nice for people who have difficulty attaching clasps, such people with arthritis. People in certain fields (like massage therapy) must keep their nails ultra-short - so they can't open lobster clasps easily.

What metals can I use to make ear wires? What metals should I consider when buying ear wires?

Ear Wires

When you are choosing the right metal for your ear wires, you need to consider several factors. Think about the effect of the metal on the wearer or on yourself. Many people have allergies to metal, and ears are particularly susceptible. For example, if you use natural copper wire, it will form a temporary discoloration (green) in the wearer's earring holes. If you are using a coated metal, be careful of scratching the coating when bending the wire. Taping the tips of the pliers will protect enameled or coated wires. This is why it can be better to work with precious metals. You can work gold-filled wire into ear wires without damaging it, but don't overwork it. You can also use steel wire, but make sure it is surgical stainless steel. Also, make sure if you use silver, that you use sterling silver or gold filled wire. Although sterling silver ear wires may tarnish, it is less potentially irritating to the wearer.

What are crimp covers?

Crimp Covers

Don't like the look of crimps? Consider trying crimp covers - tiny "surround" beads that make your crimp look like a small bead. If you are making a fancier piece and you don't like the rough look of a crimp, or if you made a but of a mess with your crimp on a particularly complex piece and you don't have time to restring, check out these nifty little jewelry findings that give simple crimps a more polished look.

How do I use silver clasps and findings?

Sterling Silver Clasps

Sterling silver clasps are used to close strands of silver jewelry. Most sterling silver clasps are 2-part metal units that open and close. There are many kinds of sterling silver clasps, some in the shapes of fish, cats and hearts. Such decorative sterling silver clasps along with other silver bead findings can become an element of design rather than just pieces of hardware.

What are findings?

Findings: The Basics

Findings are the metal pieces used to make jewelry. They can include pieces like jump rings, clasps and headpins. Jump rings, for example are small metal wire circles, used to connect various components on a piece. Clasps will ultimately hold your piece of jewelry around your neck or on your wrist. Head pins create drops or dangles for earrings or fancier necklaces. You can get findings in gold, copper and sterling silver. Findings are the essential pieces that will transform a pile of beads into a beautiful necklace or brooch so invest wisely in them. A piece of jewelry is only as good as its findings!

What is memory wire?

Memory Wire

Memory wire is a great jewelry finding for making quick and fun bead jewelry pieces. It is a flexible wire that retains its shape, is easy to use, and produces great results. This wire doesn't even require clasps for the rings or the bracelets that you make. You just use round nose pliers to make a small loop at each end of the wire and you're done. Its typically made of stainless steel so it also doesn't rust.

Can I make my own jewelry findings?

Making Jewelry Findings

If you have the right tools it is absolutely possibly to make your own jewelry findings. Popular make-your-own items include jump rings, earring hooks, and hook and eye clasps. These are generally very simple findings. With enough practice you can get creative with homemade findings and they can look just as good if you use the right materials and tools. You'll want to use good quality wire that is malleable, but not too malleable and you should be patient. If you are handling precious gems or pearls, you may want to consider buying high quality findings. It would be tragic to lose something special because of an experimental home made jewelry finding.

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Joe Wallace